Steve Jobs and My New FAMOUS PEOPLE Series

Steve Jobs

Drawing by Elizabeth Wagele

Sometimes people ask us Enneagram authors about the types of famous people. We have to guess and we sometimes disagree with each other. I think of this as a good-natured game. Famous People often only tell us what they want us to know. Their whole personalities may not be communicated to us. Still, their possible types can be fun to discuss and it is a way to learn about differences.

This marks the beginning of a series of FAMOUS PEOPLE and their Enneagram types. See a list of famous people and Enneagram types and MBTIR types on my web site, too. Some characters in movies are included. This series will be published every Tuesday either in WordPress or Psychology Today.

In The Career Within You, Ingrid Stabb and I listed Steve Jobs as an Adventurer type. Since then, we met someone who knew him and is familiar enough with his personality and the Enneagram to believe he is a Perfectionist. She saw him micromanage and saw him insist that his employees persevere almost to a punishing degree. And she saw his angry outbursts when they made mistakes.

The Perfectionist’s arrows (the two types connected to the Perfectionist by lines in the Enneagram figure) support this classification: Jobs has been a visionary in his field, always looking for something new and better, supporting his Adventurer arrow. His insistence on elegant aesthetics in his products supports his Romantic arrow. The aesthetics are from the inside out, including the engineering designs of the products.


The Enneagram Figure

This is based on the brief description in The Career Within You, page 191: “Steve Job’s’ (born 1954) innovations range from the first type fonts used on Macintosh computers, to the award-winning interface of music iPods, to iPads. With Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak, Jobs created one of the first commercially successful personal computers. Among the first to see the commercial potential of the mouse–driven graphical user interface, Jobs also later served as CEO of Pixar Animation Studios. He also essentially got rid of the mouse! And he did away with the floppy disk. He is one of the individualistic Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who understood the importance of design and the crucial role aesthetics play in public appeal. His products are both functional and elegant.”

David Carr of the NY Times thinks the iTunes and App stores are his most remarkable creations. I was impressed to learn that he bought Pixar from George Lucas for $5 million, invested $5 million more, and sold it to Disney in a deal valued at $7.4 billion. I’m one of those happy non-technical people who have never had a computer that wasn’t an Apple.

Jobs quotes that reflect his personality type:

“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.” Perfectionists often strive to be honest and efficient.

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.” Perfectionists often live by the principle that there are more important things than money.

“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”

“I was worth over $1,000,000 when I was 23, and over $10,000,000 when I was 24, and over $100,000,000 when I was 25, and it wasn’t that important because I never did it for the money.” Again, Jobs feels it’s important to let people know that money doesn’t drive him.

“The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste. They have absolutely no taste. And I don’t mean that in a small way, I mean that in a big way, in the sense that they don’t think of original ideas, and they don’t bring much culture into their products.”  Jobs seems to think creating the best possible world is helped, not hurt, by a competitive attitude.

Career Within You

The Career Within You

Famous People’s Types

Oprah, An Achiever

Week after week the most popular page on is the Famous Types page. I list about 140 famous people, living and dead, and a few movie, TV, and literature characters along with what I have guessed to be their Enneagram and/or MBTI(TM) types.

In “The Career Within You” Ingrid Stabb and I suggest six to eight famous people for each type to help newcomers to the Enneagram get a clearer idea of each personality. Renee Baron and I included a list of famous couples for each Enneagram type in “Are You My Type, Am I Yours?” We didn’t list any in “The Enneagram Made Easy.” There are several famous introverts in my “Happy Introvert,” including a chapter on the movie character, Napoleon Dynamite.

A person’s type is best determined by the person himself/herself. But with famous people, we don’t get the chance to ask them their type. As a newcomer to both systems, the game of trying to guess acquaintances’ and famous people’s types was part of my learning experience, however, and I assume others do this too. It’s important to keep guesses of people you know to yourself, not only because you might be wrong, but also because searching for our own type is an important part of the experience.

The lookalikes that stir up the most controversy on my Famous Types page and among Enneagram teachers are the 8-Asserters vs. the Counterphobic 6-Questioners. 3-Achievers are also sometimes mixed up with 8-Asserters. I’ve received aggressive letters about these kinds of things. It’s not worth being rude about, though—the Enneagram is about getting to know ourselves and to be able to accept others. It’s not about who’s right and who’s wrong about someone who isn’t there to defend his decision. Another interesting thing about the Enneagram is when someone thinks she is a certain type and other people disagree. Possibly she knows herself better than they do or she isn’t ready to accept that she’s the type she really is. We 5-Observers often learn (by studying the Enneagram) that we’re pretty obsessed to want to know everything. When we “get” this, we can often let go about whether we’re right or not. We realize, hopefully, we don’t want to be invasive because we don’t like being invaded ourselves. We still love information, but we’re training ourselves not to think and say “I know!” all the time.

If you disagree with my guesses on my Famous Types page, let me know by sending me a message in a “comment” to this blog or on Facebook. I’ll take your opinion and any additions you suggest seriously.